Google takes another stab at providing your living-room TV with a "smart" home screen thanks to a tiny HDMI dongle called Chromecast. Interested owners of Android phones and tablets, Apple iOS devices, Cromebook, Windows, and Mac OS users can order the newly announced device as of today for $35—a price point that reportedly had reporters audibly gasping at the press event.
Chromecast is a dongle that plugs directly into an available HDMI port.
"The Chromecast will launch in the United States first for $35, which garnered an audible (but deserved) gasp from the media audience, a typically jaded bunch at these product announcements." - ZDNet
Essentially, Chromecast links up to Android and iOS devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and Chromebooks. It also works with Mac and PC computers that have Chrome installed. It plugs into any HDMI port and uses USB power.
Here is a more realistic depiction of the wiring. photo source: CNET
"Measuring in at just two inches in length, Chromecast runs a "simplified version" of Chrome OS. It plugs into any HDMI input port and "simply disappears behind your TV." - ZDNet
The diminutive dongle works by drawing content from laptops, desktops, Google and iOS devices—including Youtube, Netflix, and Google Play, Vudu, Hulu... anything that plays in a Chrome browser—then streams it directly to the Chromecast device from the cloud, right into an HDMI-equipped HDTV or receiver. This results in full-resolution playback of video content, unlike Apple's airplay which uses direct streaming/mirroring from an iOS device. With Google's approach, the source device can be turned off without stopping playback.
The dongle itself uses a basic version of Google's Chrome OS, giving HDTVs a degree of "smart" functionality. According to ZDNet, not all of that functionality is activated yet—but that's not stopping Google from selling it.
"There are a few features still in the infamous beta mode, meaning users can't expect things to work so seamlessly out of the box." - ZDNet
Google usually proves to be a disruptive force in every market it enters. I already ordered a Chromecast within minutes of its announcement—at the minimum, it will be nice to have it when I stay in a hotel with free Wi-Fi. On the other hand, if it really interfaces well with my PCs, Android phone and my iPad, it could earn a dedicated HDMI slot on my Vizio HDTV. Either way, I expect to review it here on AVS it shortly after I receive it.
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